(Philadelphia, PA) – In a heartbreaking finish for the Philadelphia Flyers, Jay Bouwmeester scored a goal with 3.7 seconds left in regulation and Olli Jokinen won it in overtime, as the Florida Panthers snatched a 2-1 win at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night.
With the goaltender pulled and Florida on the attack, defenseman Steve Montador somehow managed to get the shaft of his stick on the puck as it was heading out of the zone. He gathered it a step inside the blue line, sent it across the ice to Bouwmeester who scored on a deflection.
Randy Jones’ holding penalty gave the Panthers a power play in overtime before Jokinen’s slap shot from the high slot sailed past Antero Niittymaki at 3:44.
The loss stretches Philadelphia’s winless streak to 10 games (0-8-2).
“This one hurts. We did a lot of great things in the game,” said John Stevens, whose team outshot Florida 41-25 for the game. “We played with a lot of energy like we wanted to. We didn’t score at that rate, but we certainly created.
“It comes right down to the end. It’s the chance to win the hockey game. The little things have to get done there, and they didn’t, and the puck ends up in our net.”
The Flyers also learned after the game that All-Star center Mike Richards will be out three weeks with a left hamstring injury. The team’s MVP this season, playing in his 200th NHL game, collided with Bouwmeester in the third period and limped off of the ice. He did not return.
“It’s amazing right now how everything is happening. It’s important that we keep sticking together,” added Danny Briere. “I’ve been through bad times before and the one way out of that is to keep sticking together.”
“We are just going to have to deal with it right now,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “We are in a tight spot. There is no use waiving a white flag right now. Everybody is going to have to pick it up and deal with it.”
Despite the loss, Stevens was pleased with the team’s effort.
“A lot of things we wanted to do in the game, we did,” said Stevens. “We came into the game with a game plan, wanting to play with energy, wanting to spend time in the offensive zone. [The loss] takes a little wind out of your sails, but there was a lot of good that happened in the game.”
After a scoreless first period, Jeff Carter had a strong second and was major reason the Flyers took the lead.
Minutes after he led a three-on-one rush which resulted in a shot by Mike Knuble from the slot sailing wide, Carter took control of the puck with the Flyers shorthanded. He again went in with Knuble, but this time took it to the net himself and tried to go five-hole on Craig Anderson. The Panthers’ goalie made the save, but Bouwmeester was called for roughing Kimmo Timonen after the whistle.
After a brief four-on-four the Flyers went on the power play. Anderson misplayed the puck behind the net to Carter, who tipped it to Briere for his 22nd goal of the season.
Philadelphia kept Florida off of the board after that, including killing a double-minor to Scottie Upshall at 10:27 of the third period, aided by Jim Dowd drawing an interference call on Ruslan Salei midway through.
Carter had a chance to make it 2-0, but his breakaway shot was stopped by the pad of Anderson with 3:30 left in regulation. Briere also had a chance to win the game, but his backhander while alone in front of the net at the beginning of overtime was steered away by the Florida goaltender.
Anderson finished with 40 saves while Niittymaki had 23.
This was the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. Philadelphia won two of first three, including a 5-3 win at the Wachovia Center on January 16.
The Flyers face the Sabres in Buffalo on Monday (7:00 p.m., Versus).
Carter finished with a game-high 26:06 of ice time. … Should Richards return in three weeks, he will be back for the final 10 regular season games. The Flyers have 20 total remaining. … Patrick Thoresen, acquired on waivers from Edmonton on Friday, made his Flyers debut and played 8:39. … Philadelphia is 23-1-1 when leading after two periods. … The Flyers are 13-12-6 at home this season.
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